Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Orval Faubus, June 14, 1974. Interview A-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Faubus describes his social programs

Faubus describes himself as a populist. He notes that as governor of Arkansas he expanded social programs, broadening access to social security and creating a pension program for state employees.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Orval Faubus, June 14, 1974. Interview A-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

How would you describe yourself, philosophically?
That's a little difficult. You know I've been labeled everything. One of my buddies in the army one time. . . . We were going through basic training. We were privates in basic training Camp Walters, Texas. And he said I was a practical idealist. I guess if I had to apply something which I think comes nearer to describing me that that would be it. I've never been a conservative in that, you know, I wanted the few to still be rich and the poor not have an opportunity to advance. Opportunity for everyone. And yet I was classes as a liberal in my early days. Quite liberal. Because I was I guess what you'd call populist. Many have labeled me that. But now I'd be called conservative by some because I don't believe in going so far with some of these programs as to abuse the program in such a way as to destroy them when they're good programs if administered properly. Like the food stamp program. It's very fine to help these old people, help the disabled, help, you know, widows with children. Need somebody to take care of them. I advocated old age pensions. The first one in this county. Running for county office. You know, before anybody else thought of that. It was considered radical. But I've seen all that come to fruition. Social security. What you call welfare grants or old age pensions, whatever people call them. Private pension plans, governmental pension plans. Didn't have any for state employees when I became governor. They weren't even under social security. So I put all of them under social security and we expanded it to county officials and employees, city officials and employees. And then the nonteaching personnel in the public schools; like bus drivers, cooks, janitors and so forth. They didn't have any retirement benefits. And then we extended social security to school teachers and college people. Which gave them two systems. Their teacher retirement system and social security. Then two years later we set up a state retirement plan for all state employees and later expanded it to all these others. So that now anyone who works for government in Arkansas, when they get ready to retire, when they're too old to work anymore, they have the benefit of two retirement systems. And both of them [actually?] sound. We had to revise the teacher retirement system to make it actuarily sound while I was governor. No one could have been stronger for the great social programs that Roosevelt advocated and put into effect. Unemployment insurance, old age pensions which is welfare, the work projects. Well, the CCC, NYA, WPA, PWA, all those. But each one required that you do something to earn what you got except for the welfare grants which were for the old and disabled and blind, which is a form of disability, and dependent children.